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Delay in Artificial Turf Field Plan at Historic Zabriskie-Schedler House Due to Soil Contamination

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the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, a controversial plan to construct an artificial turf field at the historic Zabriskie-Schedler House in Ridgewood has been put on indefinite hold after soil tests revealed contamination. The soil, used to build a noise reduction berm, was found to contain lead, mercury, and two probable carcinogens: Benz(a)Anthracene and Benz(a)pyrene.

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Ridgewood Councilmember Siobhan Winograd enters unsafe area with “clunky” shoes to film video for posting on her social media pages


the staff of The Ridgewood Blog

Ridgewood NJ, Just when our staff thought the end of summer might also signal an end to ridiculous reports made from the dais by Ridgewood Councilmember Siobhan Winograd, comes more bizarre news announced by the Councilmember herself, of course, during a public meeting held this past Wednesday.

Continue reading Ridgewood Councilmember Siobhan Winograd enters unsafe area with “clunky” shoes to film video for posting on her social media pages

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Friends of Historic Zabriskie-Schedler House, Withdraws $40,000 Donation to the Village of Ridgewood


the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, Friends of Historic Zabriskie-Schedler House, Withdraws $40,000 Donation to the Village of Ridgewood.

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History of a Village: Meet Florence who Married to August Schedler

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photos courtesy of PW

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, The Smith family in 1920 photo at West Saddle River road house. Florence standing in the middle would later move on and get married to August Schedler.

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Former Ridgewood Council worked AGAINST those seeking to preserve the Historic Zabriskie Schedler House

Save Our Schedler Members & Friends at the Schedler House
file photo by Boyd Loving
Historic Zabriskie-Schedler House/Village Council’s September 7 Work Session
September 8,2016

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, Read this for a full understanding of how former Ridgewood Village Manager Roberta Sonenfeld, supported by former Village Council members Paul Aronsohn, Gwenn Hauck, and Albert Pucciarelli, worked AGAINST those seeking to preserve the Historic Zabriskie Schedler House.

Friends of Historic Zabriskie-Schedler House addressed the council last week . The Zabriskie-Schedler House, is a historical home built in the 1820’s and located at 460 West Saddle River Road.

The Zabriskie-Schedler House was purchased by the Village of Ridgewood, together with the surrounding area commonly referred to as the “Schedler Property”.

The group formerly known as RED made the following salient points to the council:

1.         Since 2012 our group, the “Friends of the Historic Zabriskie-Schedler House” (previously known as “RED” (the Ridgewood Eastside Development)) has been repeatedly asking the Village to stabilize the house (which would include roof replacement and mold remediation).  Despite our requests the only funds that have been spent by the Village thus far were for the installation of window louvers by the engineering department as a way to increase ventilation and decrease mold production.  In lieu of Village funds, privately donated funds have been spent to provide for tarps (on several occasions) in order to protect the house from further water infiltration and saturation and for the removal of vegetation posing a threat to the structure of the house.  These actions are merely “band aid” solutions which only have short term benefits.  With fall nearly upon us and the accompaniment of torrential rain, as well as another harsh winter on the horizon, more permanent solutions are desperately needed at this time.  Without immediate necessary remediation to the house, the house will not survive through the winter.

2.         First and foremost, in order to stabilize the house, the house is in dire need of a professional roof replacement.  The previous Council’s majority was instrumental in ensuring that no funds would be spent on the house stating that “no decision had been taken on the use of the house”.   The Council made this statement ignoring the fact that our group had provided a use – the Bergen County Historical Society was very interested in using the house as a library.  The interest was so strong that the President of the BCHS appeared at least twice before the Council.  This use, as well as other productive suggestions (such as a field house for athletic groups, a community center and a nature classroom/organic garden) were continually ignored because we believe that the majority of the Council’s intent was for the house to be demolished by neglect.

3.         The Schedler Property was purchased by the Village for $2.7 million funded through grants from the Bergen County Open Space, Farmland and Historic Preservation Trust Fund.  The Village received a $1 million grant in 2009, followed by a $570,000 grant from Bergen County in 2010 and a $450,000 matching grant received in 2011 from the Garden State Preservation Trust Fund.  Historic preservation is an essential element of these grant monies.  Nonetheless, the 2009 grant application (attached hereto) failed to include the historic house together with its historic four lots (9,10,11 and 12) of land.  Also, a false NO answer was given on the grant application with respect to potential historic structures on the Schedler Property and the square footage of the house was grossly exaggerated to 21,000 when it is in fact only 2,200.  The Bergen County Cultural Historic Commission was not contacted in connection with the application, however the application falsely states that the Village contacted the Ridgewood Historic Commission (the “RHC”) – while in fact there is no record of any such contact.  In light of these errors it is our belief that the application was intentionally misleading in order to solely address the supposed “needs” of the Village’s athletic groups, rather than the needs of the entire community.

They went one step further and listed the steps that have been taken:

1.                  In 2014 our group, worked with the RHC on an application to give the house a Certificate of Historic Eligibility (a “COE”), which is attached hereto.  The COE was awarded on May 2, 2014 and it recognizes the historical importance of the structure.  This recognition allows the Village to file an application that once approved, places the house on the national historic preservation list.

2.                  In July of 2014, our group, tired of obtaining no assistance from the Council, worked on an application for grants to be issued by the Bergen County Historic Preservation Trust Fund, Bergen County Open Space, Recreation, Floodplain Protection, Farmland and Historic Preservation Trust Fund.  These grants were a great opportunity to receive 50% of the total cost of stabilization since the Village kept stating that no funds were available for the house.  However, the Village Manager, Roberta Sonenfeld, refused to sign the application, nor would she provide the required 50% of funds to match the grant.  Moreover, Ms. Sonenfeld advised that our group was responsible for the 50% matching funds, but because the deadline to submit the application was very close, the application was never sent.

3.                  In July of 2015, thanks to privately donated funds our group was able to open a bank account to deposit the required 50% of matching grant funds in escrow.  This information was communicated to Ms. Sonenfeld and our group was able to compile a labor intensive grant application (herewith attached) that included cost estimates, the history of the house and several other necessary documents.  With 50% of matching funds in the account, there was no reason why the application could not go forward but, unbeknownst to us, there was another application being issued by Tim Cronin, the Director of Parks and Recreation, requesting Phase 1 grants to construct a 90′ multipurpose field.  Mr. Cronin’s application provided for the demolition of the house.  Additionally, while our group was always told that there were no capital funds available for the house, Mr. Cronin’s application clearly stated that the Village would provide $100,000 in capital funds, equal to 50% of matching funds. The grant application was signed by Ms. Sonenfeld.

4.                  On August 5, 2015, Mayor Aronsohn announced that in order to proceed with the application or municipal historic grants for the house, the Council needed to approve a resolution.  In addition, Mayor Aronsohn mentioned the need for a second resolution relative to the 90′ field, which also required Council approval.  The date for said resolutions was set for August 12, 2015.

5.                  On August 12 2015, the Council’s chambers were packed with concerned citizens who voiced their opinions regarding the house and the field.  The meeting minutes, herewith attached, offer an additional glimpse into what transpired that night. To a very disappointed crowd, Resolution 15-257: Acceptance of Open Space Committee Recommendations Concerning the Schedler Property was approved (by a majority of 3-2) and Resolution 15-258: Apply for Grant – Schedler House was denied (by a majority of 3-2).

6.                  With our chances of applying for municipal historic preservation grants being denied, we had felt that once again we wasted our time and effort to preserve the history of our Village and the Schedler Property.    Following the passage of these resolutions we were alerted by Ms. Sonenfeld that Resolution 15-257 included a section that would allow a 501(c)(3) group to file a grant application for the house on behalf of the Village on the conditions that the 501(c)(3) group would (i) enter into a 20-year lease with the Village and (ii) be responsible for the maintenance of the house.  Our group immediately filed for 501(c)(3) status and asked for lease documents, but Ms. Sonenfeld stated that the Village attorney would have to charge our group legal fees in connection with the preparation of the lease.  As a result, although a September 3, 2015 grant application deadline was met by our group, without 501(c)(3) status and a signed lease with the Village, our application was considered invalid.  All of these consequences could have been avoided if Ms. Sonenfeld had signed the application on behalf of the Village as the owner of the house.


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Reader says structural investigation clearly reaffirms the structural integrity of the Historic Zabriskie-Schedler House


file photo then Freehold John Mitch visiting the property with Village representatives 

The Historic Zabriskie-Schedler House is not “a crumbling 200-year-old house”, in fact, the information could not be more inaccurate. There is a structural investigation I would love to give the Record that clearly reaffirms the structural integrity of the 1820’s historic house. We can always find space for a 90′ multi-purpose field in a much better location but the destruction of an Historic house is a final death sentence for the Village and for history.. The Zabriskie-Schedler House has already been included in the Village of Ridgewood Master Plan, under “Historic Preservation Plan Element” the Village’s list of historic sites under the following criteria:
A. Important to the general development of the area and the unique cultural heritage of the community.
B. Significant example of an architectural style or period.
C. Representative example of vernacular architecture of the area.
This information has recently been reaffirmed during the re-examination of the Master Plan.
Funds are needed urgently to stabilize the Historic Zabriskie-Schedler House. Last year, The Ridgewood Historic Commission echoed the concerns of many village residents and submitted a request for a “Certificate of Eligibility”. This request was granted and on May 2, 2014 by the Department of Environmental Protection, Natural and Historic Resources, Historic Preservation Office, Trenton. The letter states, among other historic attributes, that “the Zabriskie-Schedler House is individually eligible for listing in New Jersey and in the National Register of Historic Places under Criterion C as an example of third period Jersey Dutch framed houses.

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Ridgewood council plans two votes on Schedler property


AUGUST 7, 2015    LAST UPDATED: FRIDAY, AUGUST 7, 2015, 12:31 AM

A looming grant deadline has stirred the mostly dormant discussion on the future of the Schedler property, specifically the east side estate’s historic, 200-year-old house, and an upcoming vote might determine how the conversation moves forward.

The Ridgewood Council is expected to vote next week on two resolutions directly related to the 7-acre, wooded tract of land and home.

The first resolution calls for the governing body to endorse the Ridgewood Open Space Committee’s 2010 recommendation to consider the property for “passive and active recreational development.” The committee’s recommendation has already been supported by several Ridgewood civic organizations.

A second resolution, as discussed at this week’s council work session, would permit Ridgewood to apply for a Bergen County Historic Trust Fund matching grant. The grant would be used to stabilize the Schedler house, which has fallen into disrepair following years of weathering and neglect.

“The house is in dire need of help. The roof is failing, and mold is present inside the house,” said Isabella Altano, a member of residents’ group Ridgewood Eastside Development (RED). The grassroots organization has been petitioning for the preservation of the historic home for several years.

This week, she appealed to the council for its support of the grant application and detailed the group’s work thus far. According to Altano, the residents have opened an escrow account at a local bank and already secured $45,000 or “50 percent of the $90,000 needed to stabilize the house” under the name “Friends of the Historic Zabriskie-Schedler House.”

The $45,000, she said, has been procured through an anonymous donation.

“Once the application is submitted by the village and approved by the county, [the group] will organize a 501(c)(3) in order to receive tax-deductible donations,” Altano said.

The county has established a Sept. 3 deadline for grant application submission.